As other major truck manufacturers turn to fuel cells and electricity with large batteries, Scania is experimenting with the possibility of solarized plug-in hybrid trucks.
As the ‘hybrid’ part makes clear, solar panels will not be able to provide 100% all the energy the truck needs, it would not even be its main source, but Scania believes that its trailer decorated with solar panels will be able to offer 5 to 20% fuel savings, depending on where and when you are on the road.
The last time we saw a vehicle as covered in solar panels as the Scania trailer, it was just a prototype: the 2017 Dethleffs e.home solarized motorhome.
Scania hopes its design can move beyond the design stage and deliver measurable performance in the real world. Covers an 18 meter trailer with 140 square meters of solar panels on the roof and sides. Swedish shipping company Ernst Express will pair the trailer with a Scania plug-in hybrid tractor and use it for its daily operations to test its efficiency.
According to Scania, pre-test estimates show that the solar trailer can offer fuel savings of between 5 and 10% during Swedish operations between spring and autumn. Granted, the Swedish winter does not produce enough sunlight to make solar charging possible, but imagine that the system could also be used in sunnier places. If used in southern Spain, for example, the facility could double its fuel-saving benefits, according to the company.
Scania expects the trailer to generate up to 14,000 kWh per year when you operate in Sweden. His collaboration with Ernst will test whether the trailer can actually generate enough power to send it back to the grid when the batteries are full and the truck is parked.
Scania and Ernst Express previously worked together on the Swedish electric highway project for 2016. The two companies are joined in the current project by solar panel company Midsummer, energy supplier Dalakraft and Uppsala University. Funding comes from the Swedish government’s innovation agency Vinnova.